Saatchi Wins First Round in Burns Legal Fight

12 January 2006

Former senior Saatchi & Saatchi account director Mike Burns, who defected from the agency early last year amid much legal acrimony, has been told the agency's civil suit against him will go to trial.

New York state Supreme Court Judge Herman Cahn turned down Burns' request to throw out the case, in which his former employers accuse him of breach of contract, fiduciary duty and loyalty.

Burns abruptly left Publicis-owned Saatchi & Saatchi in February, followed by seventeen other staff who worked with him on the $550 million (€428m; £290m) General Mills account.

The mass exodus headed in the direction of Interpublic Group, where they launched the One Seven agency. The General Mills business, however, remains in situ at Saatchi.

The agency, however, has not had everything its own way in the case against Burns. Judge Cahn dismissed its claim that he had violated the non-compete clauses in his contract after leaving.

The judge also rejected Saatchi's request for an injunction that sought to bar Burns from "directly or indirectly launching any company or taking employment with any advertising, marketing or communications company which services" General Mills.

A date for the trail has yet to be set.

Data sourced from Adweek (USA); additional content by WARC staff